From Team Beasts to Marin, Claros to play for the Mariners

Submitted photos – Former McKinleyville Panther Victoria Claros signs her letter of intent to play at College of Marin next year.

By Ray Hamill — Another local basketball player is taking her talents to the collegiate level, with former McKinleyville Panther Victoria Claros recently committing to play at College of Marin next year.

Claros held a letter signing ceremony earlier this month with friends and family at the Team Beasts Gymnasium in Eureka, deciding to play for the Mariners after continued interest from head coach Emily Schaefer.

“Throughout the whole (COVID shutdown), they kept talking to me and eventually I went there and visited the campus and I really liked it,” Claros said.

The head coach was a big selling point.

“She seems like she knows how to coach winning teams,” Claros said. “And I like how she runs things.”

Claros played three years at Mack High, two at the varsity level, before transferring to McNair High School in Stockton this past year in the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The senior standout was determined to play somewhere in her senior year.

“My sister lived there,” Claros said. “I wanted to play my last year and my sister said I could live with her and play there.”

The move was a successful one for Claros, who helped lead the Eagles to a San Joaquin Athletic Association league title.

Starting at point guard, she averaged 12.2 points a game and led the team with 4.1 assists a game.

None of that surprises Team Beasts coach Eddy Vainuku, who has watched Claros develop with the club over the last few years.

“She was great for us,” Vainuku said. “She was one of our best players in that class. She did a phenomenal job.”

In addition to her hard work, her understanding of the game and big-play ability stood out for Vainuku.

“What I like about her is her basketball IQ,” he said. “And her ability to make plays. It’s crazy to watch her and the things she does.

“She’s what we call a sure shooter. She’ll make anything.”

Claros says her time with the Beasts has helped her game in several ways.

“They have amazing trainers, both basketball and strength,” she said. “And I think over the years they built my confidence, my stamina and my game. It was really amazing there.”

Claros in action for the Panthers last year.

She added that what she’ll remember most from her time at McKinleyville High is “having fun and playing basketball. That pretty much sums it up.”

Claros, who wants to major in Kinesiology, has also played soccer and volleyball, but says basketball has always been her favorite.

And she says she is looking forward to the next challenge.

“I just hope to grow as a player and contribute to the team and expand my game,” she said.

She also hopes to play at a four-year school after her time at Marin.

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